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Martini Henry Mk. III rifle

Date: c 1880
Overall: 38 x 65 x 410 mm, 1.85 kg
Display Dimensions: 38 x 65 x 410 mm, 1850 kg
Medium: Metal, wood, leather
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Rifle
Object No: 00033857
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This Martini Henry Rifle was owned by J C Jamieson, a member of the Victorian colonial navy. Rifles such as these were issued to the Victorian forces, and it is likely that Jamieson had this rifle engraved with a dragon chasing a pearl in 1900 when he travelled to China in response to the Boxer Uprising.
    SignificanceThe engraving on this rifle represents the relationship between Australian colonial forces in China during the Boxer Uprising, and their relations with the locals.
    HistoryFirst issued in 1879, the Mk III rifle is the most commonly encountered colonial issue Martini-Henry, and was used in all the Australian colonies. It is known that the Victorian Navy was issued with a collection of Enfield muzzle-loading rifles and Martini-Henry breech-loading weapons in the late nineteenth century.

    Markings on this rifle indicate that it belonged to J C Jamieson, a Leading Stoker in the Victorian Naval Forces. Little biographical information is available on Jamieson, but it is known that he traveled with the Navy to China in 1900, in response to the Boxer uprising.

    The Boxer Uprising, often called the Boxer Rebellion, began when a Chinese sect known as the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists started agitating against Western Colonial influences in the late nineteenth century. In 1900, the Society, having gained popular support in northern China, attacked Western outposts in Beijing and Tianjin. In response, European and Japanese forces combined to form the Eight Nation Alliance. They brought 20,000 troops to China and suppressed the uprising in September 1901. Australia provided a contingent of several hundred troops from its colonial navies, primarily from the New South Wales and Victorian Naval Brigades.

    The Victorian Contingent consisted of men from the permanent Victorian naval forces and the Port Melbourne and Williamstown companies of the volunteer Victorian Naval Brigade. They departed Melbourne on the troopship SS SALAMIS in July 1900, calling en route to Sydney. The colonial forces landed at Taku in September 1900, having missed the bulk of the fighting. They were moved to Tietsin where they undertook garrison duty acting as policemen and firemen. They returned to Sydney on the SS CHINGTU in March 1901, remaining in quarantine in Sydney until May, 1901, when they left for Melbourne by train.

    This rifle features an impressive engraving of a dragon chasing a pearl on its stock. It is likely that Jamieson had this rifle engraved when he was in China. Souveniring was a fairly common practice amongst members of returning naval contingents, with items ranging from cutlasses to court robes to a temple bell.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Martini Henry Mk. III rifle

    Assigned title: Martini-Henry rifle mark III .450/.577

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